NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE
Volume 52, Issue 1
In this pro bono spotlight, we discuss recent pro bono representations with Chelsea Loughran of Wolf Greenfield. Chelsea is a Shareholder in the firm’s Litigation Practice, Chair of the firm’s Public Service Committee, and Chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee. While maintaining a strong and active life sciences IP practice, Chelsea manages a consistent docket of pro bono work.
BPLA: Would you describe a couple pro bono cases you’ve worked on over the past few years?
Chelsea Loughran: I typically take pro bono cases in the area of family law/domestic violence. Several years ago, I represented (through trial and post-trial logistics) a terminally ill victim of domestic violence in securing a divorce and favorable division of marital assets for estate planning purposes. The client was seeking a divorce from her husband and sought to gain ownership of the marital house to leave to her children before she passed away. Our representation led to her achieving both of those goals. That case was extraordinarily meaningful and prompted me to take on several other family law cases since then, including most recently a case where we secured a divorce and favorable division of assets through settlement for another client seeking relief from a partner with a long-standing struggle with substance abuse. We continue to help this client with the modification and enforcement of her separation agreement. I also supervise associates across a variety of other types of pro bono cases, from immigration/asylum cases, to research for cases on behalf of sexual assault victims, to helping clients with unemployment benefits denial appeals, to aiding non-profit, charitable organizations with trademark disputes.
BPLA: How did you come across these cases?
Chelsea: At Wolf Greenfield we have developed a wide network of contacts with various pro bono referral organizations. The family law cases come from our friends at the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts (WBF). We seek out immigration/asylum cases through the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) project. We take unemployment benefits denial appeals from the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP). There are many others. We have worked hard over the years to develop connections with a significant number of very impactful pro bono organizations.
BPLA: What approach do you take to pro bono representation?
Chelsea: I take a holistic approach to representation of pro bono clients, recognizing that many times their legal struggles are neither isolated events, nor are they matters that simply go away after a single court-order. It is important to aid them with the legal issue at hand, but also make it a practice to keep in touch with clients and ensure that the legal solution arrived at continues to work for them over time.
BPLA: What motivates you to do pro bono work?
Chelsea: I view legal service and the support for legal service in the community as a professional responsibility and believe it is critical to donate time and resources to those in the community who lack access to adequate legal representation. For me, it is an inherent obligation, backed by a fundamental belief in the concept of “equal justice under law.”
BPLA: Are there organizations supporting this type of work that you recommend?
Chelsea: Yes, absolutely. As noted above, you can reach out to a number of organizations in the Boston area that refer pro bono cases and reaching out to these organizations (whether the WBF, or the VLP, or PAIR, etc.) is a great place to start. A few website points of contact are provided below:
  • For the Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project for Domestic Abuse Survivors: https://wbawbf.org/content/volunteer
  • For the Volunteer Lawyers Project (which refers a variety of cases from unemployment benefits appeals to bankruptcy cases): https://vlpnet.org/join-us/
  • For PAIR (asylum and immigration cases): https://www.pairproject.org/about
I also serve on the Board of Directors for Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) and participate on that organization’s Executive Committee and Development Committee. GBLS provides critical legal advice and representation to low-income individuals and runs a pro bono program as well. Supporting GBLS through a donation or through their pro bono program is a great way to get involved. See https://www.gbls.org/get-involved/probono and https://www.gbls.org/donation-form
BPLA: Finally, could you also speak to how much support these organizations provide to you as a volunteer lawyer? Are they there to partner in the case with you or do you have to figure it out for yourself? What kind of training and review do they provide in the non-IP areas of the law?
Absolutely. As IP attorneys we have worked hard to develop a very specific set of legal skills but we should not be too apprehensive about getting involved in pro bono work outside of IP law. Each of the organizations I mention here provides comprehensive training and mentorship for all of its volunteer/pro bono attorneys. The Women’s Bar Foundation family law training session, for example, is offered on a regular basis throughout the year and provides an excellent foundation for any attorney looking to take on a pro bono family law case, regardless of that attorney’s standard area of practice. The WBF also matches each volunteer attorney with a mentor who is an expert practitioner in family law. My mentor, Pat Levesh (the managing attorney of the Family Law Unit at GBLS) has been a constant source of guidance and support as I have navigated a number of complex family law/domestic violence cases. PAIR and the VLP provide similar training and mentorship structures for their volunteers. You are definitely not alone when you take on one of these cases! And please also feel free to reach out to me at any time and I would be happy to help connect you with the right opportunity/resources for getting started. cloughran@wolfgreenfield.com
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Table of Contents
Message from the President Daniel Young
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Case Law Club Meeting
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Message from the Editor
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In-House Committee January Roundtable
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Minutes of the Annual Meeting
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Members on the Move
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2020 New Member Welcome
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Patenting Highly Engineered Antibodies in Europe
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Pro Bono Spotlight
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Job Listings
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Well-Being Tips for Law Students & Lawyers to Endure Winter
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Officers and Board of Governors
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Community Calendar
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Reckoning Patents as Public Franchises
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Closing the Patent Loophole Across Borders
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